One of the big problems with the existing internet is that it is controlled. It relies on massive server farms, internet service providers, corporations and governments to keep running.
The Bitcoin blockchain indicated the way an alternative could be devised: an internet with no center, no control, and no server farms, yet still able to run websites, and apps.
How are blockchains related to the internet?
Simply a decentralized network, a blockchain allows anyone to keep a centralized information database, without depending on any one organisation. Blockchains are, in fact, lots of computers across the internet, and the owners of these are called miners.
The next important development in blockchain networks was the Ethereum project, which started in 2013, and the baton was quickly picked up by others in the new cryptocurrency industry. A decentralised internet can’t be censored by anyone, nor can it be controlled by governments or monopolised by one organisation.
Ethereum wasn’t funded by venture capitalists, but by a crowdfunding campaign – one that managed to pull in millions of US dollars within hours of launching. It takes the blockchain one step further by adding smart contracts, making it possible to do numerous types of transactions.
How does a type of virtual money power a decentralised internet?
Each blockchain is a network offering a new type of coin or cypto token that buyers purchase, in the hope that it will increase in value. The rest of the tokens are given to various participants on the network – people who develop apps, users, investors, miners and so forth. This encourages people to join early on, so that they can reap the greatest rewards, and it helps to build up the critical mass that any type of internet needs to become of any use.
What does the decentralised internet look like in 2017?
Over the previous nine years, since 2008, the blockchain industry has developed, integrating into areas as diverse as real estate markets and the technology behind driverless cars. Blockchain network applications like Facebook are still able to function, but they don’t have the same power they do at the moment.